Category Archives: Michigan

Fishing with Veterans

Dan - Vietnam VeteranI would like to introduce you to Don. Don is a Vietnam Veteran. He became a Ranger at the age of 17. He did a 34 month tour of Vietnam, something that is an accomplishment by itself. He left and came back to Special Forces and served until 1986.

I met Don today at an event put on by KFGL and Camp Liberty. The KFGL leadership got a bunch of us kayak anglers to bring extra kayaks and gear with us to spend some time on the water with other veterans. Don is a good fisherman (landed several bluegill and a perch when a lot of the crew wasn’t catching much), but had never fished in a kayak. I got the opportunity to put him in one of my Hobies.

It is a small gesture of thanks on our part for the service these veterans have done for us, our liberties, and our country. Getting the opportunity to listen to Don talk about his time serving, his time working outside the Army, his wife and kids, and the plans for when his wife retires at the end of this year.

I don’t have much else to say except thank you to guys like Don, Mark, Brian, and Mitch for serving us, and to their families who give up so much in letting them go.

Thank you Camp Liberty for providing us an opportunity to spend a beautiful day on the water with these veterans!

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Kayaking and Fishing with Kids and Teens

With it being Fathers Day Weekend, I thought this would be apropos…

I love to see parents who get their children out on the water at an early age. My son has been fishing with me since he was probably 4, fly fishing since 7, and paddling since about the same age. If he is free, he will go out with me, with other friends, or by himself. Here is how I developed that.

Start simple. If you are fishing, do it in a park setting where the child can quickly catch bluegill, and when they get bored, head over to the slides. When you catch a fish, let the child reel it in. Take pictures. Get them to touch the fish. Cheer them on. If you take your non-fishing spouse with you, they can then watch the child while you continue to fish more seriously. Do NOT abuse that though!

Plan trips carefully. When Josh started going on weekend trips with me, we would not fish for 10-12 hours a day. I would know what else is around such as museums, hiking, horse back riding, and ice cream. It is time with your son or daughter, so use it wisely. Do not frustrate them. Plan the more adventurous trips without them, and make sure to give your spouse a chance to take a trip that they want to enjoy. Oh yeah, bring lots of snacks and juice boxes!

Focus on safety. If you are in a boat, make sure that the child wears his/her PFD at all times (you should have yours on as well – set the example). Take the time to get one that fits well and is comfortable – the orange horse collars will just irritate them. If you are wading, make sure that she has waders that fit, a belt that is snug, and if necessary, attach a rope leash to them, and a PFD in water that you are not sure about. I have never used that, but know other dads who have<

Teach as you go. The Bible has a passage that says to teach them as you sit, walk, lie down, and rise (Deuteronomy 6:7). The same goes for life. As you rig your rod, teach the knots and the fly or lure that you are putting on. Explain the different types of fish. Talk about water safety. Pick up trash that you find and tell them about how to be a good steward of the environment.

Let them be kids! This means that you will be skipping rocks, looking for turtles, crayfish, getting wet and dirty (an extra set of clothes and a towel in the car is advisable). Don’t expect them to be able to pay attention for hours. When you go to the big box outdoor store or local bait shop, let them explore the fish tank, animal mounts, and bait sinks.

What you will discover is that as the years progress, you will be able to fish longer with them. The child will develop more confidence in the water and you will be able to let them venture out on their own. Do not force them. If they do not enjoy it, find other areas of interest to spend time with them.

Rachel on the Au Sable
Rachel on the Au Sable
I floated from Mio to McKinley on the Au Sable RIver just before Memorial Day with my 13 year old daughter. While she enjoys fishing with me, she enjoys the kayaking more. We fished the first half of the trip, wading at different points. Note that an inexperienced angler flyfishing from a kayak is not advisable. After our stop at Comins, she wanted to just paddle, so that is what we did. I had to put away the rod (passing up some beautiful streamer water!), and we talked and laughed as we paddled and explored.

Guess what, she’ll go with me again.

Trout Opener 2015

The Michigan Trout Opener is almost as sacred as the opening day of deer season. Guides are booked, lodges are filled, fly lines are checked and cleaned, early season flies are tied and boxes are stocked, waders are patched, license is purchased, and weather is checked.

This is the first Michigan Trout Opener I have been able to fish in several years. Our church has a Men’s retreat on this weekend, and it has not been close enough to a river to fish for trout. This year we were in Lake City, so close to the Manistee River. With a couple other friends from the church, we planned our free time on the river.

Jeff Nymphing
Jeff Nymphing

We were over by the Sharon Bridges area, and decided to try the North Manistee Tributary just around the corner. We headed up stream and met the owner of that area rather quickly. This is where respect comes in handy.

There were no signs on the land around the bridge, so we were hiking up stream. JP came by and informed us we were on his land. I quickly apologized and said that we would stay in the river, though he said he owned both sides. As we talked, we found out why he was so anxious.

When we came out that morning, somebody had left a string of eight nice sized brookies on the bridge right there. Additionally, he and his neighbors have seen two deer carcasses in the past week hanging, stripped of meat. As he realized we were fly fishing, we struck up a good conversation, and by the end, we had permission to fish upstream from him as long as we respected the fish and his land.  He even gave us a few tips for that area. Will moved one fish in that stretch.

We also fished the main river downstream of Sharon Bridge. Great scenery, but no fish. We talked with the fishermen in a couple drift boats which confirmed that it had been a tough day fishing, but all were happy that trout season was here.

We saw some caddis and a few hendricksons. Jeff is a new fly fisherman, and we had him nymphing and understanding his bugs.

Lessons learned:

  • Teaching a friend to fish on a beautiful spring Michigan day makes a fishless day
  • Seeing hendricksons still is exciting
  • Check out who owns the land around where you will fish
  • Be respectful of anyone you meet
  • A day on the water is always beautiful

Trout season is here! Plan some time to get on the water. If you want somebody to fish with or want to learn more, let me know! You can find me on the Paint Creek in southeastern Michigan or somewhere on the Au Sable in northern Michigan.